Time to find out what’s cooking! Lights, camera, start the stove…
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Witch’s Brew with Morgana Blackwing by Colleen M. Chesebro
“Welcome to this week’s broadcast of Witch’s Brew. Please welcome our guest, Morticia LeFay. This barista-witch knows how to mix her infusions!”
“Thank you, Morgana. This week, we’re brewing up a new concoction called Writer’s Essence.”
“Sounds perfect for all the writers out there.”
“That’s right, Morgana. It’s guaranteed to stop writer’s block!”
“How’s it made?”
First, bring a kettle of water to boil. Drop in a pinch of periwinkle, a shot of vodka, and some lemon juice. Let the tincture cool. Next, set your intention. Drink up!”
“Thanks for stopping by witches! To your health, bottoms up! Wassail.”
Seabright Port Newsletter, June 1963 by Saifun Hassam
“On the first Saturday of June, Seabright Port overflows with visitors from nearby towns. It’s time to check out the Teflon Kitchen Exhibition and run in the 10-mile Teflon Kitchen Race. No one knows how the race got renamed “Teflon Egg Race.” Every year all the posters around town vanish with the visitors at day’s end.
The Seabright Seafood Omelette cooking show draws over five hundred entries. Five of the region’s best chefs are the judges. Fifty people are selected by a random drawing for the contest, more popularly called “The Teflon Stuffed Omelette Contest.” It’s a tough contest!”
Debt to be Paid by Rebecca Glaessner
Radiation reached his skin through UV-resistant clothes.
“Four-hundred-thirteen billion credits for today’s contestant! If he survives…”
A hidden crowd cheered.
He retrieved his only permitted secret ingredient with a blistered hand.
“What’s today’s contestant chosen for us?”
Blinding light. The crowd gasped.
The glare receded and he staggered forward, balancing a platter, alien delicacies piled high.
“I… think he’s done it!”
“Come. Into the shade. There. Tell us, what’s your secret?”
“I saved… a Moru life… once,” he wheezed, stumbled, “they owed me- Ma! I can finally fix the air-con now!”
Missed It by Ann Edall-Robson
“What channel is it on?”
“That’s the cooking channel. We want local.”
“It’s being televised on the big network.”
“Yes! Your channel surfing is getting us no where.”
“We are going to miss it. Their group is on first.”
Flashes of shows popped up on the screen one after another after another.
“Stop. Back up. Whoa! This is the one. They’re at commercial. Don’t go to another channel!”
“And now we return to the teen division. The judges have made their decision.”
“We missed the beginners. Why do you insist on not sharing the remote?”
Rachel’s Cooking Show by Joanne Fisher
“Welcome back.” Rachel said smiling at the camera. “Today I’m making my no fail chocolate cake. In the last segment I mixed the cocoa, flour, and baking powder. Now I’m going to cream the butter and sugar. A microwave is good for softening the butter, but make sure you don’t melt it…”
They looked at her through the glass window.
“What do you suppose she’s doing?” asked one,
“She thinks she’s hosting a cooking show. A rather unfortunate case.” the other said, as they watched her beating an imaginary bowl. They then moved on to observe the next patient.
Weighty Tales by Reena Saxena
I couldn’t believe it was her.
The eyes shone bright as ever, but the rest of her was lost under pounds of flesh. Yet, the famous hostess of a cooking show attracted attention.
She starts with a story.
“I dated an overweight guy and wanted him to lose weight. It did not happen, but I married him and got drawn to the world of good food.
So, here’s a dish we devoured on our first date…”
I’d rejected the same rich guy, but ended up being overweight myself. There are weightier matters to think of, while dating a man.
Annoyed by Simon
What the rock is cooking?
Rock is cooking? is that a dish name?
Rocks don’t cook, yes it is a dish name.
Stares blankly… can we skip that question, what are you cooking for our show?
Cooking a delicious meat to eat.
How do you cook?
Obviously, In the fire?
I mean what style are you going to cook?
A style that needs to cook well.
How do you like it to be cooked?
I like it to be cooked well.
You know what? I quit! Channel, find a new anchor!
Are we stopping a boat now?
Fishermen’s Stew by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“The first part of your feast begins with a kettle of cold mountain water, placed over the fire like so.” Sonja swung the kettle arm over the flames. “Tussen Takk for hauling water from the waterfall, Narn.”
Narn bobbed his head and blushed, then sat back on his haunches.
“It’s best to start with root vegetables, as I’ve done here. They take awhile to soften, so adjust by size of the protein source,” she continued. “What d’you think? When do we add the protein?”
“Later. They’re so skinny.”
Sonja nodded approval.
The tiny fishermen, wide-eyed, sweated in their cage.
Cooking Show by Robert Kirkendall
“Today we’ll be cooking octopus,” the chef said to the camera. “The key is to cook it quickly on a high heat so it retains moisture and doesn’t get too chewy.” He held his hand over a skillet. “Our cooking surface is now hot, so let’s get it out.”
He opened a basket, then an octopus suddenly jumped out and wrapped its legs around the chef’s face. He struggled to pull it off as he thrashed around the studio, his screams muffled. He finally pried it off and the octopus quickly crawled away.
“But first, make sure it’s dead!”
Cooked Rat by Doug Jacquier
The famous chef strolled onto the TV kitchen set and, after he’d waved the adoring response of the audience down, he announced he would be showing them how to make perfect ratatouille.
Suddenly, a woman stood up in the audience and yelled, ‘No. Today you’re going to make perfect amends. Sixteen years ago you got me pregnant and promptly disappeared, leaving me to raise our son alone.’
She turned to the young man seated next to her and said ‘Stand up, James’. As the boy stood, she turned back to the chef and said ‘Meet your new apprentice, Gordon.’
Intercultural Cooking Contest by Anne Goodwin
I hope she doesn’t cook curry, thought Mary, offering the other finalist her hand. The smell!
Please don’t cook beef, thought Manju, greeting her rival with palms joined as in prayer.
Winking at the audience, the compere showed them their separate kitchens. Manju gasped at the oak cupboards, the marble worktops, the built-in stove. Mary gasped at the water pump, the stack of firewood, the grey clouds above.
Defeated by the controls on the cooker, Manju diced raw onion into yoghurt, garnished with coriander. Mary grated raw carrot into cream. Wisdom worth more than money, both felt they’d won.
Tough Cooking by Kerry E.B. Black
Mostly bare cupboards, yet Rayne needed to feed her hungry family of five kids, plus herself and her husband. She pulled cans of tuna from the back of a low shelf. Butter and cream from the fridge. Peas and herbs from the garden. Rayne imagined herself on a cooking show. In her “basket” she found few luxuries, yet she wished to wow the judges. She whipped up a tuna noodle casserole and sampled the finished product. She smiled and set the table.
Family trickled to the dining table, grumbling. “Yuck! I don’t want this!”
“These judges’re tough,” she thought.
Cake in the Pan by Norah Colvin
Deidre laughed, sang and clapped on cue at her first-ever real live Christmas pantomime, until … the clowns prepared the cake. Deidre knew how to make cakes — she’d made them with her mum. The clowns obviously didn’t — tipping more flour over each other than into the pan, splashing the milk, and cracking in eggs, shells and all. The audience roared as the clowns placed a lid on the pan, shook it vigorously, then tipped out a magnificent cake. When offered a slice, Deidre folded her arms and clamped her lips. A cake made like that could never taste good.
On Course by D. Avery
It was a marvel what she produced in such a short time and with so little space, just a narrow counter top and a butcher block kitchen island.
She commandeered the small kitchen, flour clouding the roiling tempest of her activity. Then, while the oven did its transformative work she swabbed the surfaces and restored calm as she stowed the dishes and debris from her preparations. Snapping a table cloth over the butcher block, she displayed her confections. There was Black Forest cake, lava cake, and even rocky road ice cream. The butcher block was an enchanting desserted island.
A Hare-brained Idea by Sue Spitulnik
Normally Michael had other band members along when he drove the Veterans Music Van to the VA. Today he needed silence to brainstorm. The Irish Dancers needed money so they could attend a competition. How could he get enough people involved so it wouldn’t be a hardship on any wallet? His mind wandered to his stomach. He hadn’t eaten breakfast. Food! What if they had a cook-off? Each group he belonged to could make the same meal using their own recipes. Voting for favorite dishes could be done with dollars. Cooks would get ribbons, and the dancers the money.
Able Canning-Celebrity Chef by Bill Engleson
“Louie, caught your new show last night. Breakfast with Bernie.”
“That was episode two…you missed the pilot. What did you think?”
“No, I caught the pilot. Porridge! He ate porridge, Louie.”
“Bernie’s all about healthy breakfasts.”
“Last night he ate Gruel. Gruel is porridge.”
“No, it’s porridge-lite. There are innumerable porridge possibilities.”
“I don’t know. Shoulda went with Able Canning. The Dark Web’s feasting on his cooking show.“
“We looked into it.”
“It’s got fantastic numbers. Excellent audience participation.”
“Yeah. Once. Then they become filet mignon.”
“True enough. Still…”
“Food for thought, Louie. Food for thought.”
It’s What’s for Dinner by Michael Fishman
Everyone wrote about the zombie apocalypse, but no one really believed it could happen.
I won’t bore you with viral genetics; I’ll just say that as SARS-CoV-2 continued to mutate over 103 years, the infected – 94% of the population – didn’t suffer the same as their ancestors, but instead became zombies.
A world of 10.8 billion zombies, all of them interested in different culinary traditions because there’re only so many ways to cook human flesh.
“Huuhnee, please turn on TeeVee?”
“Uhh kay, sweetie.”
“If you dish not cut it, chefs. Youuu wuhl be chopped. Open baskets now.
The Cooking Show Bombs by Charli Mills
Carl chewed on his bottom lip. The basket revealed to him contained squid, maple syrup, goat cream, and volcanic black rice. The crowded rotunda erupted as the host of the MOA Cooking Challenge explained the secret ingredients. Sharon, fellow chef-restauranteur in downtown Minneapolis, gave Carl the side-eye. The squid. How in the world…? Ink. Black. Rice. Cream. But goat? He released his lip and ran to the pantry nearly colliding with Li Sun of the Golden Dragon Sushi Bar. She’d be his competition this round. Sharon froze on stage, flummoxed. Then, security rushed the stage. Saved by a bomb.
Chef of the Hour by FloridaBorne
Jill yawned. Her best friend Kara had free tickets to “Chef of the Hour” and wanted company.
Four chefs battled for the $10,000 prize each week? Boring.
Why was there one empty station?
“Jill Jones,” the host said. “You’re our monthly mystery chef. If you can beat out these three, you’ll win $50,000!”
She walked to the station, and waited for the bell. Thirty minutes later, she’d perfectly created her mother’s chicken pot pie recipe. An hour later, she’d won!
Kara ran on stage, expecting a hug.
Jill glared at her. “Was the deception worth losing your best friend?”
GBBS by Nancy Brady
Weekly, Julia watched mesmerized as twelve amateur bakers were whittled down to the best baker during this reality cooking show. Each baker was tasked with making baked goods based upon the theme.
There were three timed challenges: the Signature Bake, a special themed recipe that the contestant was comfortable preparing; the Technical Challenge, which consisted of one of the judge’s tricky recipes. Ingredients and minimal instructions were given to each baker, prepared, and then blindly judged; and the Showstopper, an over-the-top concoction.
Julia was most impressed with the unique flavor combinations, the imaginative designs, and each baker’s baking skills.
Baking Her Way to Fame by Ellen Best
After watching The Great British Bake-Off, Sarah decides to self-tape her efforts to launch a cooking show. The next Nigella, she mused Mary Berry of East Anglia. She planned and tried recipes for days hoping to perfect a bake that would stun and make her go viral on Instagram or Tick-tock. Eventually, Sarah settled on simplicity after all, just how hard can a limoncello cream stuffed choux balls wedding cake, a Croquembouche be.A new apron couldn’t disguise the abject failure of her bake. She now is a star on tick-tock as ‘The Comedy Baker.”
“Allez! Cuisine!” or “Go! Kitchen!” was the instructional lead of a favorite cooking show “Iron Chef”. Katsuta Shigekatsu was an actor who played Chairman (Takeshi) Kaga. Kaga loved musicals; starred as leads in the Japanese theatrical company Gekidan Shiki as ‘Jesus’ and ‘Tony’
Mark Dacascos (born in Oahu, Hawaii) hosted the American version and was introduced as Kaga’s nephew. The only thing they had in common was that they were both actors. Apparently Mark did do the opening flips for that cooking show. Dacoscos could still flip in 2009 at the age of forty five! But could they cook?
More or Less by Myrna Migala
“Deciding what recipe to donate for the recipe book; while encouraged to give our very best!”
“My opinion, share your mother’s muffin-tins “tatoe-bacon” recipe, and while your add it, whip a batch for the freezer for an occasional snack.”
“Good idea, since the ingredients are not written in stone, more like less of this and more of that, I’ll note the measurements.”
Mix 1lb of hash brown frozen shredded potatoes
one grated onion
one cup bacon-bits
two cans evaporated milk
1/2 cup of flour
salt and pepper to taste
pour into muffin-tins bake at 375
A Tiny Flaw by Ruchira Khanna
To the lightly roasted course semolina, add one cup of lukewarm milk.
Allow it to cook on a slow flame.
Once it’s semi-solid, add half a cup of granulated sugar.
Give it a vigorous stir before turning off the gas.
Now, I’m going to serve the audience.
I said with a wide smile as I approached them with serving bowls garnished with sliced almonds.
With fingers crossed, I watched them take a spoonful of my sweet dish into their mouth.
They ejected the morsel in unison.
“Major flaw!” one declared.
“You’ve put salt instead of sugar.” the other screeched.
Light Charcoal Action by Annette Rochelle Aben
There is something special about charcoal-grilled hot dogs. Frank made sure he rolled them for even browning. He loved to use the grill. The taste of the food, along with the oohs and ahhs from hungry diners made his day.
Poised and ready for the first taste was Zeus, a patient, playful Rottie! His head followed the action of his master’s hands in syncopated rhythm. It was as though he was willing Frank to drop something on the ground.
Aware he was being watched, Frank laughed, “Gee, Zeus, I didn’t realize I was putting on a show here!”
Pot Luck (Part I) by D. Avery
“Whatcha cookin’, Kid?”
“Makin’ beans fer Ernie an’ Wanda’s potluck gatherin’ Pal. Problem is, I got wind that Pepe’s also makin’ beans. An’ so’s Shorty. I cain’t no way compete with Shorty’s beans.”
“Is it a competition?”
“No. Jist a frien’ly gatherin’. But my beans is dif’rent. Folks’ll compare ‘em ta the other beans.”
“An’ they’ll notice thet each bean dish’s dif’rent, each good in its own way, reflectin’ the maker’s hist’ry even. Folks’ll be glad ta sample ‘em all. Kinda like the buffet a flash fiction responses thet Shorty puts out ever week.”
“So it’s all good?”
Pot Luck (Part II) by D. Avery
“So whut’s some a the others bringin’ ta the table, Kid?”
“Wanda’s makin’ her fire-in—the-hole chili. Ernie is a course makin’ his special cookies. Frankie says she cain’t deliver on cookin’ but will bring olives.”
“She did thet last time. Ate one a Ernie’s cookies an’ spent the rest a the night in a starin’ contest with one a her olives.”
Heard Logatha’s bakin’ up loaves a brown bread. What about you Pal?”
“Think I’ll roast corn over the fire.”
“There’s always a good fire ta set aroun’.”
“Thet’s where we share our stories.”